A new way to identify bodies?

From an article about Korean War soldiers missing in action:

Perry said scientists have discovered that the shape of a clavicle is unique, much like a fingerprint. Before U.S. soldiers were sent to Korea, they had their chests X-rayed to check for tuberculosis. Military officials are putting the chest X-rays of missing soldiers into a database.

Perry said scientists are working on a way to match those X-rays with the unidentified remains as an alternative to DNA analysis.

He said it is early in the process and scientists haven’t perfected the method.

That sounds wonderful and I hope this gets somewhere. DNA testing is expensive and time-consuming and, as the article notes, not always practicable. The more ways there are to identify human remains, the better.

8 thoughts on “A new way to identify bodies?

  1. Kat September 21, 2009 / 7:10 pm

    Random news…did you hear that they finally found Brooke Wilburger? Finally, finally, some closure for her family.

  2. Kat September 21, 2009 / 7:22 pm

    Sorry, WilBERGER. My bad.

  3. Bill September 22, 2009 / 1:55 pm

    A couple of people have told me that I have a weird shaped collar bone, so I suppose it’s true. I was told one has to see it from a certain angle, which I can’t do. Anyway, I’m always glad to hear about a new way to make a positive ID off of skeletal remains.

    When the two skeletons were found in Wilmington, NC last year, people grew impatient for having to wait so long for an ID. We were told when they have nothing but bone, and no soft tissue, the process is a lot more complicated. I still don’t know why dental records were not helpful. The skeletons were eventually identified as the remains of Allison Jackson-Foy and Angela Rothen, but it took several months to find out. (Or, should I say, ‘confirm’?)

    • Meaghan September 22, 2009 / 3:48 pm

      Sometimes dental records for a deceased person aren’t available. Or the jawbone is missing or damaged.

      Does anyone know whether dental records can be used to identify a person who has never had any fillings or anything? I’ve had regular dental cleanings and stuff and had braces for awhile, but I’ve never had a cavity or anything like that.

      My teeth are pretty distinctive anyway, though. Two of my baby teeth wouldn’t come out like they were supposed to. The resulting crowding caused my other teeth to chip from the side pressure — I discovered this when one day I was eighteen, sitting there minding my own business, not even eating anything, and suddenly a piece of my tooth fell off. I went to the dentist and she refused to touch it, referring me to an orthodontist, who referred me to an oral surgeon to get the offending baby teeth extracted. If they hadn’t extracted those teeth, eventually my other teeth would have chipped down into little nubbins. I still have big spaces where those teeth used to be — luckily in the sides of my mouth, not visible when I smile. Anyway, now you know the full biography of my teeth. *g*

      • Nicole September 22, 2009 / 5:06 pm

        Yes, you don’t need to have fillings or anything. I’m sure they have taken x-rays as per usual every few years. That is what they use.

  4. Bill September 22, 2009 / 7:26 pm

    In the case of the missing women in Wilmington whose skeletons were found, dental records were available. I don’t know how complete the skeletons were, however, or how many teeth were present.

    Nicole is correct. If you’ve ever had dental x-rays taken, you have dental records available. Police just need to know which dental clinic to get them from.

  5. JerryG September 27, 2009 / 4:55 am

    What a sad and familiar story. I have a great uncle named Harlan who went MIA in Korea in November 1951. In a lot of ways, it sounds a lot like our family’s attempt to bring uncle Harlan home.

    • Justin May 27, 2012 / 2:03 pm

      Harlan Raphael Reuter?

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